(Almost) Happily Ever After

I met my husband in Kindergarten. I have one of his school pictures dated 1986, the backside reads- To Tessa, From Aaron– written in his five year old scribble.

We began dating when we were children. Yes, children. An unlikely couple not considering…

We’ve been married now for nearly seven years and as strange as it sounds, I am not the girl that my husband fell in love with. I’m not even the girl that my husband married! And he is not that boy. Which makes the fact that we are not only still married, but that we are still in love, that we still flirt, and laugh, and yes, make-out (maybe in some ways we are still those kids) seem miraculous.

Because I am all about full disclosure, I will also admit that there are days where we aren’t as much in love, days that we don’t flirt, or laugh, or make out. Days where my sanity comes into question. Those are the days that make me want to be better, work harder, pray more…because those days hurt my heart.

I was young, naïve, and stubborn when we married. I’ve outgrown two of those things. Care to take a guess which still rings true??? I knew it all. I was scared out of my mind. I lived with anxiety as I attempted to control everything around me, including my groom. I was prideful and neurotic and selfish.

So how is it possible that my husband loved the me then, and also loves the me now?

It is by the grace of GOD…and lots of work.

I had to work on myself, because I learned quickly that you cannot and will not change your husband. Trying to do so will only cause you resentment, frustration, and waste your time.

The first year of marriage revealed a really ugly me. It revealed some deep rooted fears and insecurities. Thank God my husband saw “potential” (inside joke). I spent the first year of our marriage playing Momma to a 26 year old man who already had a Momma. Not sexy, ladies! Your man does not want to think of his Momma when looking at his wife.

I had to learn to be patient with my husband, to have faith in my husband. Our priorities are not always aligned. Something I still work on accepting. I had to learn that giving him some freedom does not mean giving him up, or giving up on him. I had to give him that freedom to make his own mistakes. I had to learn to trust him. Trust his motives, trust his intentions, trust in his love. I had to learn to let my guard down, so that he could love me. Love Me. The real me, the vulnerable me. The sometimes not so kind me. And he does, without a doubt. He loves me.

I have learned to be sensitive with his pride. That Man Pride. He was a boy when our journey began, so I initially fought it, his new ‘voice’, before accepting the inevitable and deciding that I wanted to be a contributor, not a detractor. I want to be a wife that my husband is proud of. Not the wife that everyone is whispering about when we leave a party. “Poor Aaron!” I was that wife. And maybe sometimes I still am…

Work in progress. That’s me!

I’ve learned to serve my husband to show my gratitude. I’ve gotten some flack on this. But my husband carries with him huge responsibilities… financially, emotionally, spiritually- in this sense he is the strongest man I know, an observation that too often goes unappreciated- the least I can do is make his plate at dinner.

I have learned to pray with my husband and to believe with him in his prayers. Talk about some heavy responsibility. I have been on the operating table, trembling with fear, when my husband grabs my hands and prays to God for my peace, and health, and safety. “Do you promise I’m going to be okay?” “Yes.” That’s all he has to say and my heart rate returns to normal. It’s probably not fair to ask this of him. But he loves me, and I trust him.

I have learned to dream with my husband of places we’ll go and things we’ll do. Dreams taking place far in the future, long after are babies are no longer babies. Dreaming of our future…together.

But most importantly, I had to learn to accept the fact that there is no “Happily Ever After.” That would mean that every second from the moment “I Do” came from my quivering lips has been 100%, absolute wedded bliss. Not realistic. I had to give up hopes of the perfect marriage. The perfect husband. Let’s face it, that would require a perfect wife. And in exchange I have received even better, a ‘real’ happy marriage. A marriage with more ups than downs. A marriage that I believe in. A marriage that anchors me. A marriage that tests me. A marriage that is home. A marriage that I would be proud of for my own daughters.

Find a man like your Daddy, girls! Work hard. Pray harder! And you’ll live almost happily ever after.

 

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